What is the Bone Marrow Failure Program?

Bone marrow failure means that the soft area in the center of most bones (marrow) does not make enough blood cells. These include:

  • White blood cells to fight infection
  • Red blood cells to carry oxygen
  • Platelets to help the blood clot and stop bleeding

The caring experts at Seattle Children’s Bone Marrow Failure Program:

  • Diagnose conditions that can cause bone marrow failure
  • Care for children, teens and young adults with these conditions
  • Treat related health problems that affect some children with bone marrow failure

The complications of bone marrow failure can be life threatening. Children with marrow failure need care from a team of experts. Our program brings together specialists from different areas of healthcare to take care of your child.

What’s special about the Bone Marrow Failure Program at Seattle Children’s?

Experts at our Bone Marrow Failure Program have lots of experience caring for children and teens with blood conditions that cause marrow failure.

We work with you, your child and your child’s primary doctor to get the right care for your child. The Bone Marrow Failure Program is part of our Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Please contact the center at 206-987-2106 for more information, a second opinion or to make an appointment.

  • We offer a full range of treatments. Depending on your child’s illness, they may benefit from:

    • Growth factors that help make more blood cells
    • Blood transfusions
    • Medicines
    • Hormones
    • Stem cell transplant, using immature blood-forming cells from a healthy donor. For some children, this cures bone marrow failure.

    Our Non-Malignant Transplant Program specializes in stem cell transplants for children with noncancer conditions. Some children with marrow failure are too sick to tolerate the powerful drugs or radiation that is usually used to prepare their bodies for the transplant. This preparation is called conditioning.

    Our team – led by Dr. Lauri Burroughs – has developed better ways to prepare them, called reduced-intensity conditioning. We continue to fine-tune conditioning treatments to improve survival and reduce complications.

    We do the transplants here at Seattle Children’s, working closely with Fred Hutch, our partner in the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). More than 30 years ago, Fred Hutch pioneered stem cell transplants to treat blood disorders.

    See statistics and outcomes for details on the number of stem cell transplants we do each year and survival rates for children who receive them.

  • Our doctors have special training in how to diagnose and care for children with blood conditions. The doctors who guide your child’s care are board certified in pediatric hematology. This means they are approved to give the special care your child needs, and they constantly expand their knowledge about blood disorders.

    Seattle Children’s Bone Marrow Failure Program also has experts in treating other body systems that may be affected by marrow failure. Your child will get care as needed from doctors who diagnose and treat problems related to:

    We care for your whole child – not just their disease. Your family has a full team behind you. As needed, your child will receive care from specialists in nutrition, pain management, pharmacy, physical therapy, psychology and emotional health. Read more about the supportive care we offer.

  • Through our partnership in the SCCA, our patients who need stem cell transplants have access to promising new therapies offered only in research studies. These studies are called clinical or therapeutic trials. They may involve gene therapy, new conditioning treatments or options for children who do not have good donor choices for stem cell transplants.

    We belong to national and international research groups that work to improve care and find cures for blood disorders. One such group is the North American Pediatric Aplastic Anemia Consortium (NAPAAC). It supports patients and families with bone marrow failure.

    Our partner, UW Medicine, is home to the Severe Chronic Neutropenia International Registry (SCNIR). It helps track people who have a shortage of white blood cells, which can be caused by bone marrow failure. Registries like this collect data to help experts learn more about diseases and improve treatments.

    At Seattle Children’s our doctors and researchers work to:

    • Better understand how the body makes and balances blood cells and how this may contribute to blood disorders
    • Improve treatments for children with blood conditions
    • Find the causes of these conditions
    • Reduce complications and side effects for children who need stem cell transplants

    Learn more about blood condition research at Seattle Children’s.

  • We work with many children and families from around the Northwest and beyond. Whether you live nearby or far away, we can help with financial counseling, schooling, housing, transportation, interpreter services and spiritual care. Read about our services for patients and families.

    We are actively involved in efforts to improve treatment and support patients and families, such as:

Conditions We Treat

Some children are born with a condition that causes marrow failure. Others develop marrow failure during childhood.

At Seattle Children’s, we diagnose and treat all types of bone marrow failure. This includes:

These conditions are all different. They can affect the body in different ways. Symptoms vary based on the types of blood cells affected and the other body systems involved.

Bone Marrow Failure Team

Our team members have extra training and years of experience in the special needs of children and adolescents:

We work with professionals from many fields to plan treatment and to care for children with bone marrow failure. See the full team at the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.

Contact Us

Contact the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at 206-987-2106 for an appointment, a second opinion or more information.

Schedule an appointment